Dixie State University basketball continued its upward swing in the Pacific West Conference Saturday with a thrilling overtime win over California Baptist University.
The 94-88 victory took an extra period to get, but it was worth it for the Storm as they put themselves in position to further improve their PacWest tournament seeding.
“It felt a lot like a tournament game,” head coach Jon Judkins said. “Give CBU credit. They played tough, but we dug deep and found a way to win.”
DSU came out firing on all cylinders in front of a season-high 3,810 fans and jumped out to a 19-point lead early on. The Storm shot 43 percent from the field in the first half while holding the Lancers to 27 percent, propelling them to a 41-29 lead heading into the locker room.
The lead, although comfortable, was not enough to keep the Lancers at bay. CBU chipped away at the lead in the second half and eventually took a 60-57 lead with under eight minutes to go.
The teams traded buckets from that point on until the Storm found themselves down three with just 49 seconds on the clock. Sophomore guard Brandon Simister, who scored in double figures for the second consecutive game, knocked down a three-ball to even the score.
The Lancers answered back with a three-point play of their own, this one on an and-one-opportunity, to force the hand of DSU’s long distance game once again on the final possession.
The Storm turned to their star point guard and one of the most prolific 3-point shooters in DSU history, “Money” Mason Sawyer.
He did not disappoint.
“We drew up a play for a zone defense but they came out in man,” said Sawyer, a psychology major from West Jordan. “I focused on getting the ball back to change the play call, but I was worried that they might foul to prevent us from getting a three up, so I created space and let one fly.”
Sawyer let it fly from about six feet beyond the arc and hit nothing but net, knotting the game up at 75 and sending it to overtime.
Led by junior forward Josh Fuller, the Storm didn’t miss a shot in overtime and outscored CBU 19-13, edging them closer to the top of the PacWest standings in the 94-88 win.
Fuller, an accounting major from Rexburg, Idaho, said he was ecstatic about the way the team finished the game.
“We’re playing really well as a team right now and we got off to a great start,” Fuller said. “But I was most proud of how we finished the game. We got stops when we needed them and were able to score on offense. We battled adversity and never stopped believing.”
Fuller notched a career-high 29 points and Sawyer added 21. Simister continued his impressive play with a 13-point outing and senior guard Robbie Nielson tacked on 10. Senior forward Mark Ogden Jr. struggled from the field but still stuffed the stat sheet, accumulating 15 rebounds, five assists, three blocks, two steals and eight points.
The Storm now own sole possession of the fourth seed in the PacWest tournament, and, with only 2.5 games separating them and first- place Azusa Pacific University (Concordia University is ineligible for postseason play), DSU has a chance to make some ground in the standings.
Next up on the docket for the Storm is the 5-15 Academy of Art Urban Knights. Tipoff is set for Thursday at 7:30 p.m.